I have a deplorable tendency to treat servo screws as ‘optional.’ It’s never really bitten me until a couple of weeks ago when the elevator servo arm detached in flight on my F8F Bearcat, resulting in a short and very exciting flight.
This was right before I began the build on my new, light Stryker. The new Stryker is a night flier, with red, white and blue strips of LEDs embedded in the foam. It looked beautiful in my basement with the lights off and I couldn’t wait to try it out for real. The weather wouldn’t cooperate unfortunately.
Then, the night of my son’s birthday party, we had a series of thunderstorms. After they’d passed, at about 9PM, the air was really still, despite constant lightning running through the clouds in all directions. I anxiously waited for all the guests to leave. At about 10, everyone was gone and the wind was still calm. I rushed around the house, gathering up all my gear – the plane, the box of batteries, my ‘sky tackle’ box which holds my cameras, flashlight and so forth. I threw them all in the car and tore off to the local park about a two miles away. I jumped out of the car, grabbed everything and semi-jogged out into the park where I realized … I’d forgotten to bring my transmitter! The air was dead calm, taunting me as I gathered up my gear again, rushed back to the car, and hurried back home to grab my transmitter.
I burst into my house, yelling “Forgot the radio!” I grab the radio, run back to the car, and drive back to the park. I get the plane and gear out yet again and I’m making my way back into the park when … the wind suddenly picks up. Argh!
Not to be deterred at this point, I put the battery in, turn on the lights and toss the plane into the wind. Everything goes great for about five seconds, and then the plane noses up, stalls, and starts to spin earthward. I have some control, not much, but enough to get it on the ground without damage.
I go up to the plane, work the controls, and discover that the right elevon isn’t working. I look closely and – you guessed it – the arm’s come off the servo. Someone forgot the screws. Again.
So I gather up the plane and my gear and head home in defeat.
The next night isn’t calm, but the winds are down around 8 MPH which is good enough for me, so I gather up my gear and head back to the park with my son. (I make certain that I’ve got the transmitter before I leave the driveway.)
I get to the park, put the transmitter around my neck ask my son to grab the battery and tackle while I grab the plane. I pop the trunk open and … it’s empty. I forgot the plane!
After banging my head repeatedly on the roof of the car, I put all the gear back into the back seat, start the car, drive home and grab the plane. Then I open the battery box to make sure the correct batteries are there. I check the tackle box for my flashlight. I give the plane a quick pre-flight, making sure all its bits are there. I double-check the transmitter.
Then, one last time, I headed back to the park where – wonder of wonders – I actually arrive with everything I need for a successful night maiden.